Health Insurance Marketplaces Don't Deliver at Launch Exchange Opens Woefully Prepared

Health Insurance Marketplaces Don’t Deliver at Launch. Exchange Opens Woefully Prepared.

Rife With Technical Issues, Health Insurance Exchange Has an Abysmal Opening

Today is Oct. 1st, one of the most anticipated deadlines in the roll out of Obamacare and the official “opening” date for the new state and federal Health Insurance Exchange Marketplaces, but the truth is the system is woefully prepared, and some may argue non-functional at launch.  In fact, the Health Insurance Marketplaces were set up in order for individuals to sign up for health insurance, determine if they qualify for Medicaid, and establish whether or not they qualify for a healthcare subsidy to assist them in paying for insurance. Did you know that the Exchange Opens Woefully Prepared?

How The Exchanges Are Supposed to Work

Healthcare Insurance Exchanges, or Healthcare Insurance Marketplaces are supposed to be a concept of online shopping and enrollment for health insurance plans for a number of America’s uninsured.  They have been likened to the Expedia of Insurance Marketplaces, where individuals can browse through healthcare coverage options, fill out streamlined enrollment paperwork, and determine whether or not they qualify for Medicaid, or a Healthcare Subsidy in order to offset the cost of insurance for those who fall within certain parameters of the poverty line.  In theory they are to function as a streamlined online marketplace where individuals can shop, compare coverage and prices, and enroll in health insurance before the enrollment deadline.  Beginning on Jan. 1st 2013 individuals will need to either have insurance coverage or pay a fine/tax/penalty of 1% of their income in 2014.  This fine/tax/penalty will increase to 2.5% of your income beginning in 2016.  In order to have coverage take effect by the Jan. 1st deadline, individuals need to enroll for, and pay for health insurance by Dec. 15th 2014.

As of today, the exchanges are not prepared to do any of those things, and it may be weeks or months before they can begin enrolling and processing insurance requests.  As reported by NBC:

  • The Small Business Marketplace won’t be functional until November, leaving less than 30 days for small businesses to enroll in plans before the mandatory coverage deadline of Jan. 1st
  • The system required for calculating tax credits won’t be available until November
  • The Spanish version of the exchange will not be ready until November

In addition to this, the pieces of the system which are up and running have been plagued with errors, and testing has not been completed for many of the platforms that the systems run on.  According to Mila Kofman, the executive director of D.C. Health Benefits Exchange Authority “{There is} a high error rate, about 15 percent.”

Exchange Opens Woefully Prepared: You Can Look, But You Can’t Enroll

The bottom line is the insurance exchanges, or healthcare insurance marketplaces are off with an abysmal launch.  Individuals can go online and “look” at policies, coverage, and pricing, but can’t actually enroll.  An individual can try to determine if they will qualify for a subsidy, and 9 out of ten people, depending on what state they are in, may or may not get a correct answer.  Furthermore, you will be able to apply for Medicaid…..maybe…..if they can determine if you are eligible, but your application won’t be filed until mid-November in many places (including Washington D.C.).  Testing on these systems is not complete, and neither are the programs designed to train people on how to assist with the enrollment process.  Millions of Spanish speaking individuals, one of the most important segments of the population to have enrolled in order for Obamacare to work, won’t have a Spanish version of the website to even look at until mid November.  Billions of dollars have been spent to date on getting the programs, systems, and software into place to serve millions of uninsured Americans who today are left with the option of “looking around” the healthcare exchanges, but not actually being able to enroll in a health insurance plan.

Follow BHM Healthcare Solutions for more information on the latest changes in policy and healthcare exchanges.